The idol stirred into life, the music of the orchestra died away. Then a tom-tom began to beat its nervous pulse-stirring throb, the strident notes of a reed-pipe joined in and the dancer, raised on her toes on the dais, began to sway languorously to and fro. And so she swayed and swayed with sinuously curving limbs while the drums throbbed out faster with ever-shortening beats, with now and then a clash of brazen cymbals that was torture to overwrought nerves.
The dancer was the perfection of grace. Her figure was lithe and supple as a boy's. There was a suggestion of fire and strength and agility about her that made one think of a panther as she postured there against a background of barbaric color. The grace of her movements, the exquisite blending of the colors on the stage, the skillful grouping of the throng of worshipers, made up a picture which held the audience spellbound and in silence until the curtain dropped.
Desmond turned to find Strangwise standing up.
"I thought of just running round behind the scenes for a few minutes," he said carelessly.
"What, to see Nur-el-Din? By Jove, I'm coming, too!" promptly exclaimed Desmond.
Strangwise demurred. He didn't quite know if he could take him: there might be difficulties: another time... But Desmond got up resolutely.
"I'11 be damned if you leave me behind, Maurice," he laughed, "of course I'm coming, too! She's the most delightful creature I've ever set eyes on!"
And so it ended by them going through the pass-door together.